Friday, October 31, 2014

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book - REVIEWED


About the Book:

A hundred years before the Great Flood, a man named Noah came home talking crazy. God wanted him to build the biggest ship the world had ever seen. The future of humanity depended on it. How would his wife respond? What would the neighbors think? Was it even feasible? 

This lavish re-imagining of one of the greatest stories of all time will fascinate children and adults alike. Nuanced and playful, yet meticulous in following the biblical narrative, Mark Ludy's world-class art digs deeper than the Sunday-school tale of cuddly animals, exploring Noah's relationship with his family, the natural world, God--and a formidable engineering challenge. Immerse yourself in this stunning wordless epic. Whatever your age, you'll never read this story in the same way again. 

My Thoughts:
This is my favorite picture in the book:

Don't you just LOVE the detail in this picture!?  Every single page is just this rich!  The expressions, the actions, the entire story of the flood is richly told in pictures!  

My children are 19 and 21 years old, and we had a blast telling the story of Noah with these pictures!   My oldest son was brilliant in the telling!  

The fact that three adults can sit down and enjoy this book is proof of its brilliance!  I can't wait to "read" it to my great-niece this weekend!  She is the target audience, and I bet she will love it!

This book was my introduction to Mark Ludy's work, and he has totally captured my imagination!


About the Author: ( from his website)

Mark and his family have recently moved back to Colorado (33 years of life have already been lived here so this is more "home" then anywhere.) and they are living in the South Denver area. He is an author and illustrater of a number of children's books as well as being a regular speaker in schools. 
 
At a young age he loved to draw... draw on everything and anything. He never would have thought he would one day make a living from his doodles and crazy ideas. But he is now very happy to use his gifts in the arts to make people smile, feel good, be encouraged, inspired... and challenged. 
 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Promise by Beth Wiseman - REVIEWED



About the Book:
Mallory's search for happiness leads her to a faraway place. There she finds heartache, betrayal---and danger.
Mallory Hammond is determined that no one will stand in the way of her goal---to save a life. She had that chance years ago, and she failed to take it, leaving her adrift and in search of the real meaning of her life. Finally, she meets a man online from a volatile corner of the world who offers her the chance to find that purpose. But she will have to leave everyone she loves behind in order to take it.
Tate Webber has loved Mallory for many years. He understands that Mallory will never be happy with him until her deepest heart's desire is satisfied. When Mallory decides to travel across the world to fulfill her dreams, Tate begs her not to go but tries to give her the space she needs. Mallory embarks on her dangerous journey only to discover how swiftly and easily promises can be broken. And Mallory can only pray that she will make it out alive.
Inspired by actual events, The Promise is a riveting love story that asks the question: how far will we go for love?

Purchase your copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
I PROMISE I will get you out of there.” (p. 252
)
There are a lot of promises made in this book, but THIS promise was the most significant.  I won’t even begin to tell you the circumstances surrounding this promise, but I will tell you that when I slept after reading the conclusion of this book, I dreamed about this story!! And I was so grateful to wake up in my home safe and sound!  If the characters in a book make their way into your dreams….that, my friend, is very good writing!!

I think what I found so disturbing about this entire story was how easily I identified with the motives behind the choices these characters made.  Thankfully, I could also identify the fact that their choices weren’t very wise choices, but the motives behind their choices was very familiar.  The love and loyalty that drives Mallory is one of the many things Tate loves about her, but it is the very thing that almost cost her very life!

Another chilling fact, to me at least, was that this novel is based on actual events!  This takes my level of skepticism to a whole new level! Beth Wiseman writes a very compelling, believable story that will keep you up reading! The faith element of the story is also believably challenged, as is the relationship that struggles to exist between Tate and Mallory.

Don’t miss this very important piece of fiction!  This story contains a dose of reality that will rock your world!

About the Author:
Award-winning, bestselling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but she has also written several successful contemporary novels, set primarily in her beloved Texas, including Need You Now and The House that Love Built. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's The Promise is inspired by a true story. Website: www.bethwiseman.com Twitter: @bethwiseman Facebook: Fans-of-Beth-Wiseman







Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Quilted by Christmas
Abingdon Press (October 21, 2014)
by
Jodie Bailey


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A note from the Author: Well, I’m a regular ol’ person. Who just happens to write. A lot. Probably more than I should. I firmly believe that God created me to be a writer. From the time I learned how to string letters together into words I’ve been making up stories. Believe me… I have a very rich imagination. I used to think I was weird; now I know God just put me together that way. I can’t even watch commercials without expanding them into stories in my head. I am humbled and honored all at the same time that God looked down from heaven on me and said, “Jodie, do what you love.” Wow… how awesome is that?

I have always loved to write. I have stories that I wrote when I was in first grade. I used to sit at my grandmother’s yellow electric typewriter for hours, banging out my own little stories. When I was eleven, she bought me a typewriter of my own (It was 1984, okay?) and I would write and write on it. I wrote stories out by hand, and they ran to hundreds of pages. I got my first computer when I was eighteen, and the first thing I did was write a story on it. I wrote for school. I wrote for fun. I wrote for my friends. I’d get them on the phone and make up stories for them. (I earned the nickname “Dreamweaver” for that one. Nobody calls me that anymore, but it still stands as the coolest nickname I ever had.)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?

My Thoughts:
Somebody needs to hear this tonight….Love cam down at Christmas….Not because we asked for it.  Not because we deserved it.  But because it’s how God is. Unconditional. No matter what we do.”  
(p 199)

Okay, I have a confession to make.  Before I read these sentences, I was ready reign a bunch of negativity on this book.  For someone to basically refuse to live their life, their dreams because of a fight with a teenage boyfriend….really?  There is only one person in the world for you – really?  You are all mopey because your best friend married her childhood sweetheart and yours walked away….really?  I was having some serious angst with this book – the story.  I spent most of the book wanting to tell Miss Taryn to grow up and get a life.  Mr. Justin can live his life independent of you and there are more fish in the sea.

Vent over.  I don’t have a very healthy view of romance right now.  I admit it.  I was probably not the right audience for this book.  But God thought differently.  He pulled me up short on page 199.  And then I said…really?  Did you really forget how much you’ve been forgiven?  Did you really forget God’s greatest gift  - His Son? 

So, when I discovered some of the reasons behind Taryn and Justin parting ways, I rethought it.  Grace and forgiveness…still the most important things in our lives regardless of our choices.  Christ has poured out His life for us….grace and forgiveness in unmerited measure.  What mercy! 

So, even if I find this story a bit over-the-top-mushy in general, and even though I know life’s circumstances aren’t tied off with a neat bow at the end of story, I DO KNOW that God’s forgiveness and grace are very real.  And His love for us is boundless.  Taryn and Justin learn this. And God put His truth right before my eyes in the most unlikely place – and I am very, very thankful for that!


The Quilts of Love have never failed to surprise and uplift me in the most unlikely ways, so I am happy to recommend Quilted By Christmas to readers!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Quilted by Christmas, go
HERE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley - REVIEWED



About the Book:
In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman's secret could change everything.
Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn't heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn't mean he can get her--or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago--out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But all too soon, Ben is charged with a different task--protecting Leigh from the people after her brother. With Leigh doing everything in her power to avoid Ben, it's no easy task. And the secret she is keeping just may change their lives forever.

My Thoughts:
Call God.  He’s always home and you never get a busy signal.”  (p.51)

In Patricia Bradley’s book, Promise to Protect, I think God is the only One who can be depended on to answer any line truthfully!  There are more secrets, more layers, and more outright lies being told between the characters of this novel that it’s little wonder that their faith isn’t stronger.  Granted, truth is always an issue in a suspense novel, but Bradley has taken the depth of deception to an entirely new level – weaving both personal and professional issues in a seamless story line!  I am just grateful that both Ben Logan and Leigh Somerall have people of faith in their lives to remind them that they are not alone.  Ben particularly needs this reminder, because he feels it is his job as Sherriff to provide protection to the people he cares about.  Often, that promise is not within his ability to keep!

Forgiveness is also an issue that our main characters have to deal with on a very personal level.  To me, this added a depth to the characters life in the midst of the maelstrom that made them very real and believable. 

There is PLENTY of suspense to satisfy every reader!  Honestly, I had my doubts about any of the main characters surviving until the end of the book!  And they almost don’t!! 

I am a huge fan of Patricia’s work and I am happy to recommend Promise to Protect without hesitation!

You can read my review of her debut novel, Shadows of the Past, HERE.

About the Author:
Patricia Bradley is the winner of a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award and a 2012 Touched by Love Award and was also a finalist for the 2012 Genesis Award. The author of Shadows of the Past, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Guess Who Noah's Boat By author: Matt Mitter Illustrated by: Ela Jarzabek - REVIEWED


About the Book:

Children will love this interactive new telling of the Noah's ark story. With fun, rhyming text, each spread asks kids to guess which animal is heading toward the ark. The answer is revealed under the cleverly designed flap. With eye-catching illustrations and easy-to-understand text, Guess Who Noah's Boat is sure to become a favorite


My Thoughts:

This is a flap-book of rhyming verse that contains an animal from Noah's boat behind the flap on each two-page spread.  Each page contains a hint to the animal's identity.  The verses are very straightforward and serve as an introduction to the story of Noah.  The animals are easily identified by toddlers, and, for some of the more uncommon animals, they become easily identified with repeated readings.  This is a fun, visually stimulating way to introduce toddlers to animals and the biblical story of Noah.

About the illustrator:
Ela Jarzabek lives in Katowice, Poland. She graduated from Cracow Academy of Fine Arts with a Master's Academy degree in Graphic Design and a Second degree in Painting. Since then she has worked as a freelance illustrator. She loves working on watercolor paper with gouache, acrylic paints, and colored pencils and creating illustrations with funny characters that are bright and colorful. 

About the Author:
Matt Mitter was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Over the past ten years, he has written dozens of children's books, mostly in verse. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and their dog, Hitch.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lights Out by Travis Freeman - REVIEWED


About the Book:
WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT—PLAY HARDER.

Travis Freeman plunged into a world of darkness at 12 years old. A rare occurrence of a routine illness stole his sight, leaving the small-town Kentucky boy’s dreams of football and fun languishing on the sidelines.

Having given his heart to Jesus merely a year before the illness, Travis knew one thing: God was still the light for his life.

That life story is now the inspiration for a major motion picture, “23 BLAST” that hits theatres in October 2014. Starring Dylan Baker (SPIDERMAN, THE GOOD WIFE) and Mark Hapka (DAYS OF OUR LIVES, CRIMINAL MINDS), the film focuses on Travis’s football career playing Center for the Corbin Redhounds – a team that went on to make the playoffs.

Yet there is even more wisdom and hope for us to find in a full telling of Travis Freeman’s story. So much more to hear that couldn’t be included in The Today Showand Dateline coverage of his football exploits.

This graduate of the University of Kentucky and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary now joins with seasoned writer Rebeca Seitz to share his story in his own words. His is a story that is destined to turn the lights on for millions of readers.

My Thoughts:
We’re a disabled people….Disability does not equal inability…But we aren’t done.  We have an ability to be conduits of hope, kindness, love, joy, peace, and inspiration to a crippled world.  We can be the oasis in some one’s desert.”  ( p. 9-10)

Do not allow circumstance to tell you about God.  Let God tell you what to think of your circumstance.”  (p. 148)

Lights Out….what a treasure!!  What a spiritual challenge!  Oh, dear reader, you need to read this book!!  I’ve seen the film that is based on the book in preview – 23 Blast.  While the movie is definitely inspiring, Light’s Out takes Travis Freeman’s story to an entirely new and much deeper level!  To have your sight taken from you is a pretty brutal experience.  Many pieces of Travis’ story are painful to be sure.  But the light of his faith shines so brilliantly throughout his story that it almost makes your heart ache with gladness!!

Not only did Travis play football blind, but he played football well!  And I can’t help but be inspired by his parents’ faithfulness and sacrifice!  Travis is not the only hero in his story!!  His parents just take my breath away!  But Travis moved forward from football into an academic and spiritual realm that give even more strength and power to his testimony!!  He completed his PhD in ministry, and now preaches the gospel.  Again, the testimony of his parents to Travis’ close, personal relationship with Christ just inspires me greatly!
 
The Freeman family are such a great example of family, relationship, and an unshakable faith in the Father’s best plan for each of His children.  How thankful I am to know Christ as my Savior!  I hope I can trust God more completely every day.  Lights Out….don’t miss this story!!

About the Author:
Raised in foothills of Appalachian mountains, Travis spent his early childhood skiing its lakes with his parents on their boat, playing games with his friends, and dreaming of the day he’d play for the Corbin Redhounds.

At 12 years old, Travis became sick with what was eventually diagnosed as Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis (CST). It had settled and taken hold, masquerading for 9 days as nothing more than a severe headache. After the surgery that saved his life, Travis lost his eyesight.
After a year of adjusting to life in the dark, Travis joined the football team his 8th grade year as Center. Together, they won their conference championship. Travis continued to play all four years of high school. His story made its way to New York and was featured by The Today Show, Dateline, and other national media.

Travis obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky, where he also served its football team as an equipment manager. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Philosophy from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Travis is now an adjunct professor at University of the Cumberlands and serves as CEO of The Freeman Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the truth that disability does not equal inability

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts - REVEIWED


About the Book:

A young mother battling cancer invites readers to embrace grace in every season of life.

Kara Tippetts knows the mundane but rich days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow.and the devastating reality of stage-four cancer. 

In The Hardest Peace, she invites readers to see the grace of the everyday in all seasons of life and to live well even when the living is hard. As the thousands of readers of her blog know, Tippetts explores the hardest questions of life with rare beauty and honesty. Most of all, she draws them back to the God who is present, in the ordinary and the suffering, and shapes every life into the best story of all.

Purchase a copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
But the redemption of my hard yesterdays gives me a softened heart to walk in my tomorrows.” (p. 35)

The Hardest Peace….it is a book that takes an honest look at the journey that leads each of us to the cross.  This is a beautiful, hard, haunting, and sometimes brutal book to read.  To hear the words of the author state that she may not live to see this book bound by the publisher…well, that’s hard. 

And yet, God has gifted Kara Tippetts with the gift of sharing His transforming power that has flooded her life.  Kara has looked into the face of suffering and found peace.  It is a rare gift indeed – peace.  Kara asks some very thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter.  If you take the time to consider and answer these questions, you will embark on your own journey of spiritual growth.  This book is a gift born out of brokenness.  However, it is this same brokenness that God uses to transform the lives of His children into bright lights of hope in this very dark and desperate world.


The Hardest Peace tells Kara’s story.  It tells the story of others in her life.  It is her story. It is every believer’s story.  You will laugh, you will weep, you will rejoice, you will be left searching for what God has to bring from your own story.  He does promise to bring good from what the enemy means for harm. Kara Tippetts’ life is a beautiful testimony of this truth.   How I praise God for her story!  My own story is different.  My crucible was different.  But I can testify to God’s faithfulness and I can rejoice in this Hardest Peace.  Hallaluia!!



Below you will find some examples of the questions found at the end of each chapter.  These will cause you to consider you life in a different way.

· In what ways are you a safe place for other people? Think of someone you know who is hurting. How can you pursue them and become a safe place for their messiness? Not save them necessarily, but be a safe place to fall?

· When you pray for God to lift you out of fear and dread, do you truly believe He can and will? Why or why not? What is an example of when He did, and what is an example of when you felt He didn't? How did He show you His goodness in both answers?

About the Author:


Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, have four children and lead a church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cancer is only part of Kara's story. Her real fight is to truly live while facing a crushing reality.